Vikings defensive end Jared Allen addresses the media during his conference call on Wednesday, October 27, 2010.
Q: We hear your sacks total is down this year because you cut your hair and got rid of the wild man look. Is there any validity to that?
JA: This is the Samson theory, right? Fortunately, I've sacked the quarterback without long hair before, so we'll see what happens.
Q: You have a limited history against Matt Light, but he's a Pro Bowler like yourself. What kind of problems does he present?
JA: I think that line and Tom Brady, they work well together. It's been a pretty stable, as far as guys coming in and out. Matt's a good player. I've played against him in the past and had a little success against him, but again, I think they work well. They know Tom's timing and know when Tom's going to throw the ball. And they do what they have to do. I guess they work well as a unit, and when they're working well as a unit, it's hard to isolate one guy out.
Q: You guys use the 4-3 defensive scheme. Does that work to your personal favor and to the personnel on the Vikings?
JA: I like having my hand down. I think 3-4 presents some matchups with those outside linebackers getting some rushes on, some one-on-ones on some running backs. I'm a traditional kind of guy, so I like running the 4-3 and having the DBs play behind it. And that's kind of all I've known since I've been in the league, so it works well for us, especially with the D-line we've got with Pat [Williams], Kevin [Williams] and Ray [Edwards].
Q: Looking at the numbers here, it looks like the Vikings sixth rated defense in the league right now - low first downs, low points allowed - what's been the secret to that?
JA: We've been playing some pretty good D. There are a couple of games - or a couple of series, I should say - we'd like to take back. It's just having that next play mentality. Whatever happens on that play, you forget about it and focus on the next one. We've always preached tightening up in the redzone. In this league, people are going to get big plays, but if you can hold them to three, you can win games. Unfortunately, the games we haven't held them to threes or they've scored off turnovers, those are the ones we've lost. I think it's kind of our mentality of, 'If you give us an inch of grass, we're going to defend it.'
Q: You guys have dealt with so much in terms of distractions or off-field issues including an annual thing with Brett Favre of whether or not he's coming back. Has it started to take a toll on you guys at all?
JA: I don't think so. If you let stuff like that take a toll on you, you're mentally weak in the first place, and this probably isn't the game for you. Our games are going to have a lot of ups and downs, and right now, we're obviously in a valley, so we're trying to get up into a peak. No, I don't think it's taken a toll. We've got a close locker room. And we don't have a locker room that guys are afraid to say stuff to another guy or someone's not afraid to voice their opinion if something is bothering [them]. I don't think it's taken a toll. I just think we've been inconsistent in our play at times. And when I say inconsistent in our play [I mean] getting on the same page--offense, defense and special teams, performing solidly in one. One game, the defense plays good. One game, the offense is putting up some points and the defense is giving up too many points. We've got to all get on the same page, but that has nothing to do with off the field issue stuff. That's just working out your crap and being consistent and having some breaks go your way.
Q: When you look at inconsistencies or mistakes or penalties at critical junctures, that would seem to fall right into the category of being mentally weak.
JA: Absolutely. We preach mental toughness around here. And I think everybody does in the league. You look at the successful teams and they don't shoot themselves in the foot. Coaches always say procedural penalties you need to cut out; anything before the snap, you need to cut out. Things are going to happen in the field of play. If there is a holding, every once in a while you get a personal foul for a hit or pass interference, stuff like that. You can work with those. Not being focused and jumping offsides or stuff like that is unacceptable. We've got to consistently make sure we don't do that. And you look at the last drive against Green Bay, we're down there I think around the 30 and next thing you know it's like first-and-40. Little things like that are times in the ball game where you really got to focus in. I refuse to believe that off the field issues come into someone's mind during the game. I think it's just you have to learn to control that excitement. You have to learn to control that competitiveness, that explosive nature that we have that we want to get off the ball and make a play. Again, it just comes down to little things. It sounds cliché, but that's what this league is about: doing the little things better than your opponent.
Q: What impact has Randy Moss had on your locker room?
JA: I think he's been positive. He's been a positive voice around here. He's got excitement. I know at halftime of that Dallas game he was fired up and kind of brought the team up and got everybody fired up. I think he's been a positive influence in the locker room. His willingness to win, you can see he wants to win. It's nice having a voice around here of a guy with experience that everybody really respects that steps up and will give it to you how it is.
Q: What was your reaction when you learned that Moss had been traded from the Patriots to your team during the season?
JA: I was excited to tell you the truth. I played against Randy when I was in Kansas City and he was in Oakland and stuff like that. Just to get a chance to play with a guy of that caliber. On a personal level, it's really cool. Again, I think he just adds things to our offense that when they get flowing and they all get in sync, it's going to be awesome. I think we're on the brink of being a potent, I mean we have the players to be a potent offense and put up huge numbers. When we all get on the same page, it's going to turn around. It has to turn around quick. I was excited for it. I still am excited for it. I think there are a lot of bright days in our future. Unfortunately, we don't have too much wiggle room right now. We've got to put our nose to the grindstone, and every game counts from here on out.
Q: Can you talk about working with Pat Williams and Kevin Williams inside? What do they bring to your defense?
JA: Those guys are two stout, game changing defensive tackles. What Pat does in the run game, and what Kevin does all around is something for me that I enjoy being a part of. Kevin's leadership is probably things people don't talk about him. He's someone that I look to on the field to keep it going, and around practice. You might come to work one day, your body's sore, kind of dragging ass a little bit. Kevin's always that guy there to pick you up and get you going. Just having that competition amongst our D-Line and working with those two guys has been special to me. Obviously, sometimes all of us up front are drawing a little more attention and we see different blocking schemes and quicker pass route combinations. It's been a true blessing. It's been fun.
Q: Your takeaways have been real down this year. Anything on that?
JA: I don't know. To be honest, I don't know. I think we've taken the ball away when we've had opportunities. If you go back and look at the numbers, we've probably had at least one or two every game. Our giveaways are up, and our plus-minus is down. It's just something that we've got to keep doing. We got two picks last week. And I think we had a couple picks the week before, [and] some fumbles. They're starting to pick up. I think they're getting skewed because of the fact that our plus-minuses is so bad. Again, the turnover ratio is what costs games. You just look around the league, you look at the numbers around the league, usually the people that are ahead in the turnover category have a better chance of winning that game.